Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's coming back around again.

So I might give this a go. Vlogging was ok, but it's so fucking tedious. Script for however long at least 10 minutes, record for 10 minutes, edit for 10 minutes, upload for 10 minutes, do all the other shit. Easily takes an hour just to say anything of significance. So fuck that. Text is the new medium.
Anyway, here's my brief post just so you finally get something out of me.

Right wing ideologies seep into our thought processes in surpising ways. In my old, deleted YouTube account I made a video called Pro-Traumatic Revolutionary Disorder about the prominence of the idea that what is required to "turn people revolutionary" is for them to be abused by an alpha male character (e.g. Tyler Durden from Fight Club or V from V for Vendetta). The title of the video was a pun on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which would more likely be the result of the interactions portrayed in V for Vendetta (for example) then the kind of anti-authoritarian epiphany portrayed in the movie.

While most people can recognize the macho posturing in these boy fantasies, I noticed a more subtle and more prominent manifestation of this which kind of excited me a bit cause it's the perfect counter to the "no body wants to do anything" whining that's prevalent almost everywhere.

I was talking with one of my friends and she was saying that the reason the people we know don't protest more is because they are comfortable with their white middle class privilege. Because they don't have to fight to survive they don't care about the world. This is something which I had agreed with until I suddenly had this thought.

The 60's/70's is seen as the time of uber-revolution. It's the ideal that every radical wants to return to so they could be in the streets with 100 000's instead of 10's. But this wasn't a time of hardship. People had it way, WAY, cushier in the 60's/70's then we do now. In Australia, we had free university education, we had a better health care system, we had a less punitive, more widely available welfare system.

Today everything has withered away. It didn't "toughen us up". It didn't make us more revolutionary. We just got trounced.

I think their are two big reasons for this

1. The capitalists have forever won the battle with the unions. Now that capital can be pulled out of a country and moved to another country on a whim, the unions have no bargaining power. Only industries that must be localized (building, teaching, nursing) have power and even many of these can be undermined via other methods. Casualisation for instace.

2. The increasing destruction of face to face communities, mean that we don't know each other as well as we used to. That bond is essential for social movements. You've got to trust each other to take risks together and you've got to know each other in order to do that. Consumerism has replaced community. We need to fix that before we can fix anything.

Strong community bonds are the fertile soil that rebellion grows in. We can keep trying to make better and better seeds (political programs) in an attempt to Monsanto our way out of the problem or we can try rehabilitating the soil.


Marinus said...


I greatly appreciate all the videos you did put up on youtube. I was pretty sad when you announced your plan to remove your presence from youtube. I was worried that I would not get to hear your excellent ideas anymore.

I greatly appreciate that you have started this blog.

Anyhow, onto the topic of the day:

For a while now I have thought about the present and how things are the same or different from times in the past which people often romanticize. I used to romanticize everything between WW2 and the the decade of my birth, the 80's.

But now I have finally realized that shit is no different now from how it was then. There were crimes against humanity, there was extreme poverty, sexual abuse, class struggle and all that shit then as there is now. Fuckall has changed. Maybe things for the western empire have changed a bit, in terms of our quality of life and standard of living, but over-all things have stayed the same here as well as all over the world.

So specifically about the sixties: I was listening to public radio here in canada, two weeks ago when an author appeared on the show called "Q". He spoke about how what he calls the capital "H" Hippies deluded themselves. They were not revolutionaries they did not change shit. All they did was smoke dope and have sex, and convinced themselves they ended the war and established civil liberties for blacks and women.

The author was Gerard de Groot and you can listen to the interview at

I think the interview is the first segment of the show once you are on the other side of the introductions etc.

Sorry about my rambly post.

Happy to hear from you.


Marinus (the guy who lacks cool pseudonyms)

Everything4every1 said...

Good link (mp3). Disagree with a lot will discuss a bit when I have some free time. Thanks for dropping by.

amelia-albertine said...

I'm going to miss your videos - but I understand why you'd want to stop. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say on this blogspot instead of youtube! [I'm too tired to think properly about your first post right now, will read again when I'm more awake].

brendan said...

yeah. videos take forever.
In terms of the radical movements of the 60's. I disagree with Marinus that the 60's were merely a cultural movement, though there was a lot of that. The panthers, SDS, the weathermen, the yippis, THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT... there was a lot of radical thought- but:

The welfare state transferred what had been a struggle against capital during 20's and 30's (those were real social movements!) into a struggle with the state for access into the new middle class. The union movement was in many ways protectionist- excluding minorities from good industrial, middle class jobs. So social movements were very much focused on the state and not capital and they were divorced from the labor movement.

The economic crisis of capital and the capitalist state in the late 60's coincided with a crisis in democracy- social movements had grown too strong, demanding too much from the welfare state. The state responded by gradually eroding the welfare state and thus the sort of demands civil society can successfully make on the state.

With the decline of the welfare state there is no longer any entrance into politics. Plenty of people want to be engaged in radical politics but there is no entrance for them- there is nothing radical to do. Going to a protest is not a radical thing.

I guess i would suggest that instead of looking toward old models of protest we should be looking to the future and hypothesizing about what new forms of social movements might emerge. For one, the sort of space for free, collective production made possible by the internet is one source of potential radical politics.

For another, we on the left need to start hypothesizing about the nature of asymetrical warfare... When you are up against a foe who has a monopoly on absolute force. I'm thinking about riot cops at protests with their tasers and surveillance drones but I'm also thinking about Iraq and Palestine. The moral of Iraq is that the brutal authority of the state is actually a sign of impotence, of not being able to control all of us at once without consent. How can the realization of this impotence form new strategies for the left in the future as we face an increasingly authoritarian state?

Marinus said...

thank you very much for your thoughtful response. The theoretical framework you are sketching is very interesting.
I am interested in the ideas you put forth. I will subscribe to and check out your Youtube channel.

I agree that some of what happened during the 60's was much more than just a cultural trend.
At the time that I wrote my comment I was mostly angry at how many people point to the 60's and feel complacent about the situation we are in now. People I encounter often seem to say well we dont have to care about poverty, capital, power, etc. because the sixties was SO SUCCESSFUL!
Though the way I understand it the majority of people were not members of the black panther party, yippys etc.
Lots of people just smoked pot and had sex and now feel like almost all the causes worth fighting for has been won.

I was more or less trying to express frustration about this nostalgia for the sixties which seems to make people feel complacent even now. I think the author I quoted was maybe also trying to express some kind of anger or frustration about this.

Brendan, thank you very much for your response to my comment. Maybe after I have familiarized myself with your material my responses will be more coherent and have more substance.

Nicholas R said...

Chomsky claims that the 60s movement was much smaller than it is today, that society is much more open and aware of these ideas. Society was far more conservative and narrow. That when he started he spoke to 3 people, and he was the only one doing it (or almost) and now there are millions.

speaking of face-to-face communuity, is anyone on this blog from Australia, I am trying to organise an Australian Social Forum and would like to find some people local to Sydney-Newcastle to at least talk to about such crazy notions.

Anonymous said...

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is related to surviving a traumatic event, in which you feel your life or someone else's life is threatened. These events can be catastrophic, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and war zones. Often times the event may be more individualized, such as a serious car accident, physical or sexual abuse, or animal attack.